Random Ramblings

A random sample of recent Ragsdalian writings

The following stories, letters and assignments may provide you with some insight about my life. Believe it or not, these assignments were actually turned in for grades. (The grades I received are not posted here, but if you'ld like, you can read them for yourself and e-mail me the grade you think I deserve.)

Similar to the assignments, the letters and stories that I've posted were actually mailed to real-life people; friends of mine, in fact. "Is nothing sacred?" you ask. Well, yes. But I own the copyright to these works and I believe in sharing. If you're not interested in reading them, don't bother. I'm pretty sure my friends won't mind that I've exposed my heart (if you can call these samples "hearty") to more people than only them. And I'll bet they read these letters, so there's no excuse for you not doing the same. Enjoy!

Randomly Selected Stories

February 25, 2000
October 17, 2000
October 18, 2000
December 13, 2000
January 18, 2001


The First Amendment and Danny Rolling
The Child Online Protection Act
(To read these documents your machine must have Microsoft Word. Sorry for any inconvenience.)

February 25, 2000

Dearest Danny,

My sincere apologies (to you and to myself) for not keeping in 
touch for the past three years.  Although I have not taken the 
time to write you and fill you in on the on goings of my life, I have 
thought of and wondered about you frequently.  No excuses, 
though.  Hang me on the wall of shame and humiliation; I 
deserve a good dose of both.

Thank you, however, for being the better friend and making the 
effort to keep our relationship(?) alive.  Jill, my ever-lovely and 
loving wife, also deserves credit for my belated endeavors in 
correspondence.  Not a month has passed in three years when 
conversation has not at some point or other drifted towards a 
mention-or merely a drifting thought-of you.  "Why don't you 
write Danny a letter?" She nags,* "He's written
you several times with no response.  I'm surprised he keeps writing..."
Thus, the inspiration for my timely letter is a combination of recurring 
guilt, a wonderful picture of you in the mountains with a beautiful girl, 
and the purchase of a new computer with lots of kickin' cool 
features (esp. the CD burner.  Boy, man!)  But beggars and 
choosers and their quirky relationship.  Whatever.

Hard to believe it's been almost three years.  I loved having you 
visit me (and Heather) in Gainesville before my wedding.  Must 
admit, I was a bit bummed that you didn't show for the grand gig.  
But, hey!  Heather didn't show either, and we wouldn't have been 
able to bond in any meaningful way during that hectic festivity, 
anyway.  I really do cherish (as cheesy a word as that may be) 
the brief time that we spent together.  Not as much as I would 
have liked, but alas...

Being married is awesome.  At almost three years, I can tell you 
that that sex myth is just that.  It's only gotten better.  A new 
sense of trust and love and-believe it or not-freedom was 
created in the union of our lives.  Jill is more beautiful than ever, 
and within two month's grasp of her master's degree in public 
relations.  Yes, early retirement is in my future.

Teaching came and went.  I taught at a new middle school in 
Orlando for a year.  8th graders, American history, lots of fun.  
Neat little adventure, but then we moved to Tennessee.  I swear, 
the irony of the whole thing.  I meet a cute little red-headed 
hillbilly from the land of Dixie, spend a summer with her and some 
bohemian Californian, rag her the whole way for her bass-ackward 
little accent and the culture of her homeland, only to wind up 
moving to the middle of the hills two years later.  But Jill decided 
upon UT at Knoxville for her graduate studies, and since I said "I 
do" before she decided where to travel, I shot myself in the foot.  
Love and its peculiar leashes...

No teaching for me in Tennessee, the third worst state in the 
Union for independence in a Principal's hiring practice.  I've got a 
master's degree in education, two years experience, an incredible 
portfolio and resume, but can't contact any school, principal, 
teacher, or any other person in any school about an interview, 
interest in a job, or for any other reasons.  All hiring is done at the 
county school board.  Since I'm not from Tennessee (there ain't 
no place I'd rather not be), part of the good ol' boy network, and 
they'd have to crank out $2,000 extra a year for my salary, no job 
in the education industry for me.  That's my story, and I'm stickin' 
to it.  Bitter?  Was.  Over it.

Know what I do now?  Well, it's funny the curve balls life throws 
you.   Besides loving my wife, which is a full-time job in itself, I 
run Awesome Blossoms® and Baby Back Ribs® from an expo 
window to a table of grease-guzzling rednecks.   That's right, 
Baby!  I wait tables at Chili's Grille and Bar.  (I'm also the shift 
coordinator, but a server, none-the-less.  I'm humble.  Damn all 
those who don't tip 20%!  Yes, my bitterness seeps through the 
keyboard, into the hard drive, out through the printer and onto 
this letter.  Innocent bystanders, take a step back.  As I said, it's 
funny the curve balls life throws you (or at you, as it sometimes 

The location of Knoxville is prime for the mountains and all of the 
pleasure associated with them.  However, the college/intellectual 
culture that we were looking for is actually on the other side of 
the mountains in Asheville, in Boone, in North Carolina and 
Virginia.  How were we to know, eh?  Can you say, "Deliverance?"  
Again, I'd never even seen the movie, but for God to put me in 
the middle of its set?  Oh well.  Lots of great friends have entered 
our lives due to our relocation, and leaving them (and the 
mountains) will be the only bummer about getting out of this 
dreadful place.  But new friends undoubtedly await us every turn 
of the way.

We recently (September) adopted two beautiful kitties from the 
Humane Society.  A well dressed tiger-striped alpha-male cat, 
Archibald; and an equally, if not superior, striped gray cat, 
Ichabod.  Archie and Icky-or Icky and Archie-are quite a pair.  
Love 'em.  No time or patience or dedication for dogs.  We'll just 
admire everyone else's and wait till we have kids, which is still 
three or four years away (assuming birth control keeps on keeping 
on, to borrow a phrase).

I still remember and admire your particular affinity for the "glass 
shattering" version of Fare the Well you played for me in 
Gainesville.  I recently re-acquired a copy (albeit, an incomplete 
copy) of my first Dead boot, 5/8/77, Cornell, with the legendary 
second set opener of Scarlet>Fire and closing of Morning Dew.  
Talk about a flood of emotions for me.  I really appreciate the 
good taste and life's work of Dick Latvala, and only hope that his 
belated "Picks" list includes this show for future release.  
However, I'll settle for a You Enjoy Myself>Divided Sky>Stash 
until then.  A boy can dream, can't he?

I'm pretty sure that I haven't spoken to you since we last had 
face-to-face contact.  But in order for me to not repeat myself, 
we'll cut this diatribe short until we have further contact.  I am 
most interested to hear what's going on in the life of the 
wandering Danny Cxxxx.  E-mail
is an option. Snail mail is a tad more endearing, but doesn't satisfy
the "gotta have it now" culture we're living in.  Phone?  (865) xxx-
xxxx  I'd love to hear from you.  Of course, I'm pretty sure I have 
your number to.  Perhaps Jill and I will make it back out west and into 
San Francisco this summer.  Your accommodations sound 

I look forward to hearing from you soon.  Perhaps I'll post 
pictures on the web, or send you some updated photos of your 
other red-headed step-friend in Tennessee.

Your friend,

Andrew Ragsdale

PS.  I hope that you understand the use of a computer in aiding 
my communications.  If you can remember my hand-writing, I'm 
sure you appreciate this.

* For the record, the only time Jill has 
ever come close to nagging me (outside of play) was during a breif 
bout with depression when she was trying to kick-start my ass out of 
its rut, forcing me to make a move towards the future.  I concede; 
it was my fault.  (Jeez, I sound like a beaten man...) 
(Back to text)

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October 17, 2000


I miss you, my dear Xiola...

When I was going into the 11th grade, my family and I took a 
trip to New Orleans; my first visit to the Crescent City.  It 
was a great time.  My big sister (an artist, and one of my idols) 
and I had a great time talking and hanging out together down in 
the French Quarter, and I really had an awesome time getting to 
know her.  She introduced me to lots of new music during the 
13-hour drive from Melbourne to New Orleans, and this helped create 
a bond between us.  Just before crossing the I-10 bridge from 
Mississippi into Louisiana, she turned me onto Jane's Addiction 
with a copy of their single, "3 days..."  I was floored.

A couple of weeks after summer's end, Ritual de lo Habitual was 
released in its entirety, and I had the good fortune to snatch a 
copy of it the day it was released.  This instantly became my 
favorite album, and I couldn't get enough.

Inside the case to the disc was a little pamphlet, slightly bigger 
than a book of matches, containing the lyrics to all of the songs 
on the album.  It began with a letter addressed "To the Mosquitoes..."
I put this pamphlet in my wallet (which I purchased during the New 
Orleans trip) and, thus, carried it around with me wherever I went.

Silly?  Perhaps.  I had that wallet from the time I started the 11th 
grade through my senior year, four years of college, a summer at the 
Grand Canyon, a year of graduate school, a summer in Europe, my 
honeymoon, a year of teaching in Orlando, and two years busting my 
hump in some greasy dive in Knoxville, Tennessee (where, incidentally, 
I met some of the best people I have ever come across).  My lovely 
wife purchased me a new wallet on my 25th birthday, and, of course, 
I transferred my receipts and credit cards and scraps of cash and 
paper and my cherished pamphlet into my new leather butt-warmer.  
By no means was the pamphlet in its original condition.  During the
course of our 10-year relation, my wallet was subjected to pools, 
sprinklers, rain, washing-machines, snow, mud, and grease and grime 
of every variety.  Needless to say, my wallet had character.  So 
did my letter to the mosquitoes.  It was perfect.

This past summer, while Jill and I were packing up our home to start 
anew in Gainesville, we weeded out the garbage of our lives to begin 
in Florida with a fresh start.  I wound up doing inventory on my 
wallet, and decided that, along with the bundles of receipts, scraps 
of paper, library and insurance cards, it was time for me to part 
with my faithful pamphlet.  After all, we had been together for ten 
years, and who cared about some stupid little, weather-worn, leather-
loved letter to the mosquitoes?  In one short heart-beat, I said 
goodbye to my sacred talisman.

Who cares?  I do.
I hope all is going well with you, and that you continue to find 
the time to experience the little joys, wonders and pleasures that 
life has to offer.  I look forward to our paths crossing again.  
I miss you.

Much love,

Andrew M. Ragsdale

PS.  Give my love to Darby and Abbey.
PPS.  I have Dick's Picks #1, 6, 8, 10, 11 and 14.  I'd love to get 
a copy of 7.  Just tell me which ones you'd like, and we'll make a 
quick swap and copy.  Visit Dick's Picks @ www.dead.net 
for the set lists.

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October 18, 2000


Happy to have heard from you.  What's with you and the contraband 
pets?  Don't you know that you're bound to get burst?  Does your 
apartment complex not allow dogs, or are you just trying to avoid 
the nasty pet deposit?  You're in for it.

You are aware that dogs are a big responsibility?  Even the little 
ones.  Even the tiniest of ones, such as the Yorkshire.  Yes, they 
are precious.  I've even told Jill that I think our cats deserve a 
pet of their own-such as a YT-but I'm pretty sure they'd have a 
difficult time getting him to share a litter box with them, and 
darned if I'm going to walk some mongrel at all hours of the day.  
But as far as names go, why not just plain "Snickers?"  Didn't you 
say that was the size of him?  As far as asking for suggestions go, 
that's my vote.  Naming a pet is a very sacred action (whatever), 
and is best left up to the parents.  But Snickers sure is satisfying.
Think about it.  Snickers somehow satisfies you, doesn't it?  Hmmm.

Well.  Deep subject.  Still in our apartment, but not yet settled in.  
Our pictures are still in boxes, and our ladder is up against the wall.  
The reindeer paws are up on the house-top, and the stockings are 
hung by the chimney-with care, of course.  Getting into married 
student housing is a difficult task, if waiting for a year on the 
waiting list is considered difficult.  I have a cousin that will be 
coming to grad school in the spring, and Jill and I hope that he will 
live with, again.  (He stayed with us for a couple of weeks a month 
ago, and we had a grand ole opry.)

Other than that, Jill is still unemployed, and we're talking about 
buying a condo and having a baby next year.  Go figure.  She's 
mailed out over 50 resumes and cover letters, and had a half dozen 
interviews.  But who wants to earn a master's degree and then settle 
for a 50-hour work week as a secretary for a non-degree holding 
secretary and only earn $20, 000 a year?  Not my wife, obviously.  
Gainesville is a crummy place to seek employment, unless you're 
life's desire is to push "Awwweee-some, Blos-som, Cha-cha-cha-
chacha, Chi-lees."  I love that song!  But wouldn't you know it?  As 
soon as I split, the cool commercials come out.  Sheesh!

So, apart from the financial turmoil that seems to have us by the 
pinky toes, and the huge demand on my time from graduate school, 
and the fact that I have to go and read at my cousins wedding (some 
600+ in attendance) this weekend, things are doing all right here in 
sunny, crispy Florida.  Yes.  My roots.  I tried to die them black, 
but my natural blonde keeps people from noticing them.  How we try. 
(Man, did that get me in trouble, once.  But that's another 

40-50 hours?  You've got stamina, Kim.  Oh, to be young, again... 
Not that I'm all that old.  But, seriously.  What's with all of you 
18 and 19 year-olds cluttering up campus?  And don't you know that 
you're supposed to yield to your elders?  But, noooooooo!  "My baggy 
pants and cell phone have priority over your sophisticated socks and 
walking cane, old man!"  No respect.

What the heck am I talking about?   I'm sure you've noticed by now 
that I ramble in my writings, just like I do in my speaking.  Kind of 
makes you curious as to what goes on in my brain, eh?  Trust me.  I 
like my gray matter scrambled, slightly runny.    Huh?

Other than that.  Icky and Archie are grand.  Gave them baths this 
afternoon.  Archie is a freak!  He jumped up onto the towel bar on 
the shower's inner door in an attempt to break free from the 
shower's grasp, but the bar snapped, and down thus came Archie, 
towel and all.  Landed on his feet, but you knew that.  He's a cat.  

Icky, though.  Gosh, how I love him.  He truly is "my" cat.  (I 
think he likes me, but I'm a little embarrassed to ask.)  He follows 
me from room to room and up and down the stairs.  He greets me at the 
bedroom door when I wake up, and always visits me when I'm on 
my thinking stool.  He's precious.

That's not to say that I don't like Archie.  He's the one that's 
always eager for attention.  Jumping in laps and broad-siding your 
ankles with body swaps.  I had a friend visit this past weekend that 
Archie fell in love with.  Of course, he does this with all people 
(unless he can instinctively tell that you're an asshole), and my 
friend asked me if he was an "affection whore."  Never heard that 
before, but it's quite fitting.

Anyway.  Thank you for taking the time to communicate with me.  Is 
your family coming to Florida this winter?  When-ish?  Jill and I 
will be going to San Francisco with my parents to visit my little 
sister and her husband from the 14th to 18th, but you'll be here 
longer than that, so we'll have to hook up.

I hope everything goes well with you and the roommates and 
Snickers.  Write me when you get the chance, and I'll try to do the 

Much love,

Andrew M. Ragsdale

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December 13, 2000

My Dearest Rebecca,

Not that you belong to me, or anything, it's just a term 
of endearment,if you'll pardon the pun that was certainly 
not intended (although I had no problem playing with it for 
much longer than necessary).  I hope this letter finds you 
well and happy and in the festive spirit of the holidays.  
From what I remember, Christmas time is all about trying to 
find enough servers that will be in town to man the battle 
stations for the break.  That, and a whole lot of cheesy 
Christmas music by the popularbands of the ages, playing 
over and over and over and over and...Christmas is the time 
to say I love you...

As sad as it is, I miss it.  I knew that I would.  I'd go 
back in a heartbeat if allof my friends were still there and 
Jill agreed to move back.  Friends are wonderful.  Location 
is semi-incidental, semi-inconsequential (that makes it 
"inconsidental," no?).  And why the heck did they wait so
long to come out with all of those kick ass commercials?  
"Awe-some, blah-some, Cha-cha-cha cha-cha, Chi-lees."  That 
rocks.  But those days are gone forever, I should just let 
them go...I'm a boy of summer, without the baseball.  I'm 
also a freak, but much more of a geek.  Didn't know that did 
you?  I hid it well.  From myself, anyway.

And I love to use those three lonesome periods; they're one 
of my staples. I might be abusing them, but I've always 
thought they looked a bit masochistic, and lord knows I'm an 
accidental sadist.  But I've never even had the opportunity to... 
Never mind.

Theo's a doll!  If you ever need to put him up for adoption, 
I'd recommend your mother.  But if Jill and I were in any 
sort of financial situation to afford raising a 5 year 
old-which we're not-we'd love to have him.  Of course, 
I'd be curious about why you were sentenced to life in 
prison without parole, but I'm sure it was worth it, whatever 
you did.  Where am I going with this?  Absolutely nowhere.

So tell me about your new life in Joy-z.  Parachuting 
bar-tending babe?  Do tell!

I hope your Christmas is grand!  I'm sure that the new girl 
is going to get the shit shifts.  Hopefully they'll at least 
be in sync with your friends at the Chill.  That's what got 
me through.  That, and Tom's eggnog concoction.  Tear.  
(Almost, I'm too chipper for that, right now.)

Perhaps we'll speak soon.  If not, I'd be more than happy 
to receive an email or two.  Have a wonderful Christmas with 
your wonderful son and family.  

I love you and miss you and think of you often.  Do well.


PS.  The enclosures are good to sign and go, or you can cut 
and paste or create your own.  Just trying to save you time.  
I really don't care.  Thank you for taking the time to do 
this for me.
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January 18, 2001

Dearest Jodessa,

Preface:  Nothing here but a little story to help you 
whittle away some time. Read it with care, though, because 
those that are oblivious to history aredoomed to repeat it 
(of course, I don't buy into that at all-and I majored in 
history (graduating with honors, nonetheless!)!). 

This past weekend-and I must confess before I become too 
immersed in thisstory, that I have no earthly idea as to 
why I am writing this, other than it serves as a sort of 
correspondence, which is good for friends share with one 
another occasionally-I took the opportunity to make a 
random visit to a person I have never met.  I don't normally 
do this type of thing, but I just had to go over to my 
neighbors house and check it out.  Wow.  I have no idea how 
somebody's apartment could be so cluttered and filthy.  
Especially with his girlfriend (or wife?  Must be; why the 
hell else would she be there if she didn't have an investment 
in him?) living with him. Why did I want to go over therein 
the first place?  The floor was so covered with junk-books, 
clothes, tennis racquets, exer-cycles, more clothes-that 
you couldn't even see the color of the carpet.  The walls 
were plastered with posters and pictures without frames. 
 A dark forest green shag carpet was hung the length of the 
window next to front door, blocking any chance fresh,
 natural sunlight had for penetrating into their musky 
apartment.  The vertical blinds of their patio doors were 
slid shut, and not a light bulb was lit anywhere in the 
apartment.  It was dark, dirty, dusky, and 11:30 in the 
morning.  They were just climbing out of bed.  How could 
anyone live like this?

Jill would have passed out at the mere sight of the place.  
What in God's name was I doing there?  Why had I just run 
out of my clean, fresh palace of love, down the stairs over 
to the next flight of stairs and knocked on this long-haired 
guy's door, begging for entrance into his abode?  What right 
had I to intrude on his peaceful Sunday morning slumber?  
Just an hour ago, Jill and I were sitting at our dining room 
table eating the simple, yet delicious, Sunday breakfast 
she had prepared.  Two eggs over medium, crisp bacon, whole 
wheat toast with blackberry preserves, coffee and orange 
(or grapefruit) juice.  As pleasant a breakfast and 
conversation as it was, I was too stressed out to thoroughly 
enjoy it.

Our cats have had balcony privileges for the past 4 months 
without incident.  Until Sunday.  From the rail of our 
balcony, it is a twenty foot drop to the ground below.  
Archie is too smart to have ever considered jumping up to 
the balcony rail; he's perfectly content with sticking his 
head and paws through the posts to get a closer view of the 
birds and squirrels fussing around in the trees ten feet away.  
Why risk certain broken paws for essentially the same view?

Icky, however skittish he may be, was the one to take this risk.  
He's the one that prefers the bird's eye view from his perch 
three feet above the kitty condo.  But never has he been seen 
to jump onto this rail.  Until Sunday.  When Jill saw him, she 
screamed at him and, startled into concern, I ran out to retrieve 
him before he lost balance and plunged to his death (or broken 
paws).  This show of panic on our part caused him to run 
hell-bent into our apartment and up the stairs to his hide 
away under the computer.

The next time I looked for my precious pride and joy, he was 
nowhere to be found.  I checked the upstairs, downstairs, 
balcony, hallways, closets and litter boxes to no avail.  
I checked all those spaces again.  Archie was as cool as a 
cucumber.  Icky was as gone as the wind.  Then, to my horror, 
I looked over the balcony.  Thank goodness, he wasn't there 
either.  Then Jill climbed a chair on our porch, peered over 
the wall into our neighbor's patio, and still no Icky.  I 
did the same thing as Jill on the other side-well, well, well.  
Look who hopped onto the balcony ledge, jumped up on the 
steeply sloped dividing wall, down onto our neighbor's thin 
balcony rail and into the deserted patio?  Don't even look 
at me with those scared eyes and cry out in fear.  You climbed 
over there, now you have to climb back.  I couldn't go next 
door and get my cat if I wanted to, because the place is 
vacant, and the office is closed on Sundays.  Come eat 
breakfast, Jill says.  And here I was.

How could I eat in peace, knowing my (favorite, if it were 
permissible to have a favorite) cat was hopelessly stranded 
on the patio next door, not knowing how to get back.  After 
breakfast, I went back outside to try and persuade Icky to 
come back to my loving arms.  He thought it would be better 
to just sit and cry, occasionally transfixing his attention 
on the squirrels rambling about in the fallen brown leaves 
twenty feet below.  "He'll come back when he's ready," Jill 
(hollowly) assured me.  I figured she was right.

Twenty Icky-less minutes later, I decided to check out the 
status of my beloved feline.  Sure enough, he had jumped back 
up onto the balcony ledge and onto the opposite wall, going 
yet farther away from home.  When I saw him, he was straddling 
death, twenty-six feet above the cold, cruel world.  That's 
when I dashed out the door in my Chili's top and pajama bottoms, 
hauled ass down the stairs, around the bend, up the stairs and 
into the abyss.  My Lord!  Heaven knows that had Icky had the 
opportunity to crawl around in that apartment for five minutes 
he would have been lost from human sight until archeologists 
in the distant future decided to excavate the landfill next 
door that my long-haired neighbor calls home.  Maybe he and 
his wife are vampires. That would explain the darkness.  Thank 
God their apartment was closed off to the rest of the world; 
had they seen a pretty little creature like Ichabod snooping 
around on their balcony, they would have had their dinner plans 
solidified before the crack of noon!

But now were all happily reunited in our happy, airy home.  
Icky and Archie and Jill and Andrew back together again.  
Of course, Icky lost his balcony privileges.  Unless Jill or 
I are outside monitoring him, or he is on his harness and leash.  
Oh, the joys of parenthood.

Your wacky, weird, loose-screwed friend in Florida,

Andrew Ragsdale

PS.  It's perfectly understandable if you file this letter 
under "completely irrelevant."

PSS.  Happy birthday if we don't get back to you in the 
next couple of weeks!
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Last Updated: 13-MAR-01
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